Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Craft Tutorial: Kids Activity Tray for Legos, Beads, and as a Felt Board

It seems that as my girls get bigger, their toys get smaller and have more parts to them. And they like to play in different rooms in the house, as well as on the floor, on the couch…so I find their little toy parts everywhere. Nothing’s creepier than a Lego head staring back at you when you lift a couch cushion.

The Silly Pearl {Handmade}: Kids Activity Tray For Legos, Beading, Felt Board

I had found two wooden trays on two different trips to two different thrift stores. I was going to redo one for my mom and one for myself, when it dawned on me that I could stick a Lego board on it and also provide some “wells” to catch their Lego pieces. I also realized that they could also use the board for beads as well as their felt pieces (like their Screen Printed Felt Paper Dolls) by laying a piece of beading mat on top of the tray (it’s like a really soft felt for keeping beads from rolling around on your work surface).


The tray would keep everything in one place as they move around the house, and encourage them to put one project away before they take out a new one. Maybe Mama needs one for her crafts, too.

Here’s how I made our

Kids’ Activity Trays

For Beading, Legos, and as a Felt Board




  • White Primer
  • Craft Paint
  • Wooden dowels to fit your tray (you may need to trim them)
  • Fabrics:
  • Ruler/Straight edge, rotary cutter and self-healing mat (to cut fabric)
  • Mod Podge (I used Matte)
  • Foam brushes
  • Push Pins
  • Not shown: Sand paper, band saw (if needed to trim the dowels), sticky Velcro dots, beading cloth such as this one: Beadalon Beading Mats - Prevent Bead Rolling 12 X 9 Inch (Set of 3) or you could use a piece of felt.


Sand, prime and paint your wood tray. My girls selected purple and pink. I stuck push pins on all four corners underneath to serve as little legs to give me a place to hold the tray while painting it, and so it would dry without sticking to my newspaper (idea from Chica and Joe).


While the tray is drying, trim your wooden dowels if needed, and cut out your fabric to fit the dowels as well as the fabric for the bottom of the well (in my case, that would be the stamped fabric). For the dowel fabric, you can cut it just slightly longer but cut the width the exact circumference of the dowel. Also, stick a push pin on either end of the dowel to give you a place to hold the dowel while you are applying the Mod Podge.


Sand the dowel and coat with a layer of Mod Podge, and another coat on the wrong side of the fabric strip.


Here’s an easy way to apply the fabric to the dowel smoothly…lay the fabric strip down horizontally on your workspace, and hold the dowel by the pushpins with both hands, like rolling pin. Then roll the fabric right on to the dowel, smoothing the fabric as you go. The seams should meet together if you cut it exactly. Apply a coat of Mod Podge on top to seal. Allow to dry. Repeat with all dowels.


One of my girls insisted on using this purple floral, but it wasn’t long enough. So to hide the seam, I wrapped a strip of fabric around it and Mod Podge’d it down.


When the paint is dry on the tray, add the fabric strip that is the bottom of the well. Apply Mod Podge to the tray the width of the fabric, then apply Mod Podge to the wrong side of the fabric. Smooth down the fabric and apply a coat of Mod Podge on top to seal. Repeat for the other well on the opposite side. Allow to dry.


Use the glue gun to glue the Lego plate to the center of the tray. Then apply a bead of hot glue down the seam of the dowels and press down onto the tray, along the edges of the stamped fabric. You may need a rather thick bead of glue for it to stick. Test for wobbliness when it dries…if it wobbles, you can peel it off the tray carefully, peel off the dried hot glue, and reapply a thicker bead of hot glue and press down harder.


Finally, add Velcro to the tray and the beading mat which can be removed when the girls want to play their Legos, but the Velcro will keep the mat in place when they’re beading or using it as a felt board.


All done! Here are our trays in action…

-As a Felt Board


-For Beading


-For Legos, whether working on our own separate projects…


…or collaborating with each other.


We love snuggling with the tray on our laps, working on a project together.


So while I was working on our trays, I came across some other DIY Lego trays. Apparently I’m not the only Mama of kids who like Legos but wants them off the floor. These trays are both unique and awesome in their own ways! Go check out the Lego Trays from That’s My Letter and Finley and Oliver for more inspiration.

Anyways, hope these trays keep us more organized!

Linking: The Frugal Girls :: Tip Junkie :: Rook No. 17 :: How to Nest for Less::Oopsey Daisy :: The Trendy Treehouse ::Tidy Mom :: Creation Corner::Whipperberry :: Sassy Sites::Tatertots and Jello :: Lolly Jane Boutique : :Homemaker on a Dime :: The Gunny Sack :: Mine for the Making :: Fine Craft Guild :: Mad in Crafts :: Finding My Way In Texas :: Creative Jewish Mom :: The Taylor House



Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Keep Learning All Summer Long with LeapFrog Summer Camp

Thank you to LeapFrog for sponsoring my post about Leapfrog Summer Camp. To sign up for LeapFrog Summer Camp, please click here. #CleverLFCamp #spon

The purpose of LeapFrog Summer Camp is to keep little minds active during the summer months (ages 4-7) and starts on June 4. While my girls will be attending summer school at their preschool (before they start Kindergarten at the end of August…AAK!) I’m sure that some educational activities at home will be more than helpful to keep them learning as well.

A research study conducted a review of 39 other research studies that all looked at the effects of summer vacation on test scores, and their findings suggest it is important to keep kids’ minds engaged all summer long by providing them with the appropriate materials and resources. I think programs such as LeapFrog Summer Camp are a great resource for my girls to learn in a fun way, to get them into the habit of continued learning, even through the summer months.

At the same time, I also believe that kids need to be kids while they are kids. Summer needs to be a time to be a carefree! I think LeapFrog Summer Camp will help us maintain that balance…it’s the best of both worlds![1]

Each week at the Summer Camp will have a theme:

  • Week 1: June 4-10 Out & About—Learn about the people and places in our world on your way to becoming a global citizen.
  • Week 2: June 11-17 Caring for Animals—Experience animals in new ways and explore themes of responsibility and compassion.
  • Week 3: June 18-24 Puzzle Time—Build logic and reasoning skills as you puzzle your way through brain-bending activities!
  • Week 4: June 25-July 1 Art & Music—Let your creativity run wild as you experiment with a range of media, including handmade instruments, crafts and a home art gallery!
  • Week 5: July 2-8 Writing That's Real—Explore fascinating nonfiction topics and try your hand at investigative writing.
  • Week 6: July 9-15 Storytelling—Bring your ideas to life through storytelling, music, art, drama and pretend play!
  • Week 7: July 16-22 Science Adventures—Observe, ask questions and draw conclusions as you explore and investigate the world around you.
  • Week 8: July 23-29 Friendship Week—Get ready for school and International Friendship Day by exploring what it means to be friends.

Look out for other fun stuff like LeapFrog discounts and weekly photo contests to win LeapFrog merchandise.

I will be writing again in a few weeks to tell you more about LeapFrog Summer Camp, when my girls and I have actually used it. I look forward to seeing how the like it and what they have learned! You can sign up before it starts on June 4. For more info, check out the Summer Camp FAQ page.

This post is sponsored by LeapFrog. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Craft Tutorial: Make Easy DIY Stamps with Foam

I was working on a project last week and I wanted my girls to put their own “stamp” on it! So I asked them what shapes they wanted on this project and we made our own stamps out of regular ol’ craft foam and some thrifted wood pieces.

How to make easy foam rubber stamps



  • Foam sheets, available at Michaels
  • Wood pieces (I used thrifted Jenga blocks)
  • Glue that works on foam and wood (I used Elmer’s X-TREME Glue Stick, reviewed here).
  • Scissors and pen for tracing shapes
  • Strong glue for gluing wood together, to accommodate larger stamp shapes (I used Gorilla Glue)
  • Not shown: Fabric paint, Plastic lid and piece of felt (to act as a stamp pad), Plain fabric


You can free-hand draw your shapes, use a craft punch that works on foam, trace a shape, etc. My girls wanted their favorite Cars characters, their usual Sun and Heart, and some random things like fish and octopus. The hearts were small so I was able to use just one wood piece. Then I glued the hearts on the wood with the glue stick.


I used one of their Cars to trace around on the foam and cut that out. 


I glued two wood pieces together because the car turned out too big for one piece.


Here’s the whole gang.

Make Foam Rubber Stamps

I laid a piece of felt onto a plastic food storage lid and squirted some fabric paint onto the felt. Then I smooshed it all around to create an even layer on the felt. And they started stamping on their fabric pieces.


Here’s the finished fabric!


To wash the stamps, I just used a wet paper towel to wipe them off.

Here’s a sneak peek of what I made with the fabric, the project I mentioned I was working on last week. Tutorial for that coming soon!


UPDATE: Here’s the link to that tutorial, my Kids’ Activity Tray!

Tell me, how would you use the stamps?

Linking: The Frugal Girls :: Tip Junkie :: Rook No. 17 :: How to Nest for Less:: Oopsey Daisy :: The Trendy Treehouse ::Tidy Mom :: Creation Corner ::Whipperberry :: Sassy Sites::Tatertots and Jello :: Lolly Jane Boutique : :Homemaker on a Dime :: The Gunny Sack :: Mine for the Making :: Fine Craft Guild :: Mad in Crafts ::Finding My Way In Texas


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Brighter Mornings with Allegra #ClearBeauty #cbias

I am soooo not a morning person. Having seasonal allergies does not help matters either…sniffling all night, waking up all stuffy, and a runny nose all day. Add in contact lenses, and 3 years of sleep deprivation (that’s how long it took my girls to really sleep through the night!), and I certainly don’t look awake either! It’s hard to look and feel your best when you want to crawl under the covers! When I have taken allergy medicine, they make me drowsy so I took it before bed. While that helps me get some sleep, it does leave me kind of blah in the morning.

Allegra CVS Go From Drab to Fab

So I took this opportunity to try Allegra, which I found at CVS Pharmacy. It says “non-drowsy” right on the front, and it was on sale for $17.99 with my (free) CVS membership card. After a few days of taking Allegra, I am waking up with a less stuffy nose and I don’t have that groggy feeling when I wake up. But, I also got to try some cosmetics to perk myself up even more.

***Edited: Jenn @ Rook No 17 has a good point (see comments) about checking with your doctor first. Allegra is non-prescription now, but if you have any qualms or questions about Allegra, whether it may interact with other medications or if it may otherwise not be right for you, please talk to your doctor. And make sure you read the directions and warnings on the label first (i.e. you can’t take Allegra with fruit juice). I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on this blog. I rub funny bones if they get bumped, put Cars bandaids on boo-boos, and sometimes can guess right if someone’s faking a tummy ache, but that’s about it.***

Photo May 16, 9 33 05 AM

Back story: My mom and I went to a department store opening a few weeks ago and took advantage of all the freebies they were offering that day, including a makeover. The makeup artist taught me this really easy eye makeup trick that really made a difference in my eyes. I looked so much more awake!

{And there’s probably some magical mood lighting in the store too, which would explain the “angels singing” rays of light coming down upon my newly made-up face}

Photo Mar 09, 11 53 14 AM

While I splurged on a new moisturizer that day, I thought I could probably find the eye makeup for less at the drug store. In addition, she had used regular eye shadow that didn’t stay on my eyes for long, so I wanted something more long-wearing. I set out to find an eye liner that was easy to use that would also wouldn’t smudge. I found this Revlon ColorStay eyeliner.

Photo May 16, 9 53 27 AM

In addition, I went shopping for under-eye concealers. I haven’t had the greatest luck with these and I really need help covering the purple-ness under my eyes. CVS had a huge selection of course, but I was worried about matching colors. One I purchased was Almay Smart Shade Concealer with SPF 15, which is supposed to transform to match your own skin tone when you put it on.

Photo May 16, 9 58 34 AM

For more pictures from my shopping story, please check out my Google+ Album.

So this morning, I woke up and even though my Allegra didn’t leave me groggy, I apologize for the annoyed look on my face haha! I guess I really don’t like mornings! Will see if I can use this pic on my next drivers license.


I have added a few steps to my morning routine now…well, I saved one step by taking my Allegra last night. Previously, I just moisturized, then put on my powder foundation, then a lip gloss. Now I’m adding in my concealer (applied with a brush I already had) and the eyeliner.


First I put on the moisturizer, then I started on the Almay concealer.


I squirted some on my hand, and dipped in my concealer brush (you could also use your ring finger)


I remember the makeup artist applied my concealer in a triangle pattern, starting with the inner corner of my eye straight down along my nose, then directly to the outer corner of my eye. I used the concealer brush to fill in the triangle, using a dabbing motion. Then I used my ring finger to blend it together.


I think the color does match well with my skin. I am really happy with that! And, it does look like the side with the concealer is a little bit lifted and brighter than the other side. Not a huge difference, but I do notice.

{I also notice I look like a deer in the headlights here…so that must have been how I looked when I found out I was having twins.}


Now for the other side.


Then I blended everything together with my powder foundation and a makeup sponge.


Done with the concealer and foundation!


Now for the eyeliner. This kind is softer than a pencil so it should glide right on.


The trick I learned from the makeup artist was to line the inside of my upper eyelid. I admit I was kind of weirded out at first! But she did it so quickly and I experienced no irritation in my eyes. So here goes my attempt…I drew on the eyeliner about 2/3 of the way over, right underneath my lash line. I also went up a teensy bit to add the eyeliner right on my lash line. This way, no mascara is needed and I save myself another step (I will save the mascara I bought for nights out…remember, this is a quick daytime look!).


Here’s one eye done. That’s also my “How you doin’?” raised eyebrow.


And now the other eye. The makeup artist advised me not to line the lower lid. She said it would actually drag my eyes down which would make me look sleepy.


A little bit of lip gloss and I’m all done.


That was a really fun experiment and I hope you learned something as well. I am excited that just adding a few extra steps that took no time at all make me look more awake (and less frumpy, which I really love!).

To learn more about Allegra, visit their Facebook and Twitter pages, and check out the Allegra Makeover Game!

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #CBias #SocialFabric

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