As I posted before just a few days ago, my girls are really loving pretending to be princesses. I just thought I’d give you an update as to how our project is going.

Buggaboo loves dressing up in any way she can. Last week, I made her and her sister felt capes and hoods, complete with a velcro fastener at the neck for safety. This week, I plan to sew a rick-rack trim on both of them so that even dh could tell them apart. I took photos of the girls last night while they were wearing their capes and holding a cute little basket full of felt food. I plan to take the digital photos to Kroger and print them off in a 2×3″ size, cut them out and turn them into little playing pieces for our Fairy Tale Village (details to come in just a moment, I promise!). I also hope to make a Big Bad Wolf mask for dh, so I can take a pic of him and do the same with his picture. I thought we could then read the story together and talk about safety and Stranger Danger afterward.

Now, I suppose you’re curious about the Village. Well, I got the idea from to make a shower curtain play mat. Huh? That’s right–a shower curtain play mat. Basically, for about $2 you can make your own using a white or clear shower curtain from the Dollar Tree, and a package of permanent markers in a rainbow of colors, also from DT (though I don’t know if the markers are still there–they were available at the beginning of the school year. They may be available at Deals or even Big Lots). Spread out your shower curtain on a floor space large enough to accommodate it, and begin drawing your roads (children who are older or have advanced fine motor skills can help you with this part). If you have the luxury of a large flat tiled, wood, or linoleum surface to do this, allow your children to draw/color with crayons to help decorate the curtain. At this point, I’m asking my girls what types of places we should draw in our village. Right now, we only have a few places, like Little Red Riding Hood’s cottage, Grandma’s House, and the Big Bad Wolf’s den. I simply drew a rectangle for each location on the mat and labeled it. Last week, I stumbled across, who has a lot of paper crafts for kids and parents to try out. One thing we’re using is her little house template, which is a cute little house that’s just the perfect size for our Fairy Tale Village. I printed out 3 houses, gave each of the girls one to color, and I traced more on blank sheets of paper (our printer is almost out of ink, so it was better for us this way!). Once a house was colored in and decorated to the girls’ satisfaction, I cut them out and taped them together to form 3-dimensional cottages. This works perfectly for Buggaboo, since she’s only 2, and Munchkin enjoyed coloring in and making hers more elaborate. I’ve also started saving cardboard boxes from tea, butter, sandwich bags, and cardboard tubes. I plan to use the smaller boxes for more buildings in our village (the cottage templates were only a start for now, basically a jumping-off point for us) like a bakery, a butcher, a dairy farm, a mill, and things like that. The larger boxes, tubes, and spare cardboard pieces will be used for bridges, a mill wheel, and, of course a castle (what fairy tale village would be complete without a castle of some sort?).

Some other plans I have for our village are:

  • read more fairy tales to the girls. Allow them to illustrate what they remember, or their favorite parts of the story. Encourage them to draw the characters on 3×5 note cards, using whatever utensils they feel are necessary (crayons, markers, pastels, etc.). If possible, I’ll cut out the illustrations and adhere them to the boxes to place on the mat. The characters I will cut out as well, and turn them into little playing pieces like I plain to do with the photos of the girls (mind you, these pieces will come in handy in the future, after the play mat is trashed/put away/used elsewhere).
  • Add more locations to the village after each story. For instance, the Big Bad Wolf reappears in the story of the Three Little Pigs, so why not add the Little Pigs’ houses (using spaghetti, pretzel sticks, and maybe Cheez-Its to make the walls)?
  • Teach geography. Using the playing pieces that will be made in the previous activities, teach children left and right, plus the cardinal directions (N, S, E, W). A child of 3 or 4 should be able to follow simple instructions at the very least, so now is the perfect time to do this! šŸ™‚ For instance, give your child a word problem such as: “Red is getting ready to visit Grandma, so let’s help her pack her basket! She needs to go to the butcher to buy some sliced ham, the baker to buy some sliced bread and pastries, and the dairy to buy some cheese. Let’s not forget the orchard for some apples and also pick some vegetables from the garden. For dessert, she needs to go to the candy shop. Let’s give her some directions!” This is obviously for an older child, but a younger child could be given the directions such as: “From Red’s house, turn right and go to the end of the street to the dairy farm. Turn left, and go up 2 blocks. Turn right and go 2 more blocks to the bakery. Turn left again and go one block, then turn another left for one more block to go to the butcher.” Reading instructions like this one step at a time will help reinforce the concepts of “Left” and “Right”, as well as counting. It will also help little ones hone their listening and comprehension skills that they will need in their lives.

I may have more to add to this list later, but right now I have to get a lot of things done during the rest of the day. I’ll be back and post more later (I hope!).