Sunday, September 21, 2014

DIY Gift Idea: Family Memory Game

I managed to knock a couple big crafty to-dos off my list this past weekend, one of which was a gift for Claire's upcoming third birthday. I made the same thing for our nephew, who turned three a few months ago, and wanted to share a little tutorial for this super-cute, personal gift that will be treasured for years to come.

Family Memory Game
This is a basic matching game, like the versions you can buy in stores with animals or cartoon characters or whatever on it. Kids from age 2 or 2 1/2 can learn to pick up two face-down cards, see if it's a match, and if not, remember where they are to try to get a match on subsequent turns. This DIY game uses photos of family members, keeping the faces of far-flung relatives fresh for kids and helping them learn to read the names of loved ones.

I made mine with 12 family members, for a 24-piece game. You could do more or less, depending on the number of relatives (and pets, close friends, etc.) you want to include.

Photos of family members (cropped to 3x4, two on a 4x6 photo)
3 1/2 x 4 1/2 cards (wood or chipboard)
scrapbook paper with a small, regular pattern
acrylic paint and brush
Mod Podge and sponge brush
corner rounder (optional)

Step 1: Editing the Photos
Find a good picture of each family member that can be cropped fairly close around his or her face and not have other people in the frame. Crop each to 3 x 4, two on a 4 x 6 photo for easy and cheap printing. Including the person's name is nice, I think, since the names of family members are often among the first words kids learn to spell, read, and write. Once you have the template set up, editing each person's photo goes pretty quickly.

Step 2: Prepping the Cards
I had planned on using cardstock and laminating them, but decided such a thin card would be hard for tiny hands to pick up. Chipboard would have worked well, but I ended up finding these 3 1/2 x 4 1/2 wood cards at Michael's that are the perfect size, with nicely rounded corners. They come in packs of four for $3.99 each, making the project a little more expensive than I intended (around $30 total) but they are nice and substantial.

I painted the sides that would form the background for the photos white, for a nice consistent background.

While that side is drying, cut the scrapbook paper to 3 1/2 x 4 1/2 pieces. I used a corner rounder on them at this point, since the wood cards were rounded.  When the painted side is dry, Mod Podge the scrapbook paper to the other side.
Step 3: Prepping the Photos
While the Mod Podge is drying, separate the two matches of each person. Round the corners, if that suits the shape of your cards.

Adhere photos to the painted side. You could use glue/Mod Podge, but I ran them through the Xyron sticker-maker to add permanent adhesive, then Mod Podged over it for a nice sheen. (I skipped that last bit with Claire's, and they still look lovely :)

Step 4: The Packaging
Find a nice box that will hold all the cards. Scan a couple of the cards so the "cover" of the box can show some real game pieces. Type up the title and directions, and use some of the leftover scrapbook paper from the opposite side of the cards for a coordinating box.  

I know our nephew and his parents are enjoying their game, and I can't wait for Claire to open hers in a month or so, so we can play our own game of "Family Memory" too.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ten on Tuesday

Blogging has not been a priority lately (clearly), but I think I can handle ten quick items to share what's up with Team Kelley these days.

1. Kate transitioned to school wonderfully. She likes her teacher, her class, the library, going to P.E., art, and music class. She slept like crazy one afternoon during the first week, but other than that, hasn't seemed abnormally tired or anything. She and Claire are still live wires at bedtime, though Kate does conk out before Claire, these days.

2. Kate especially loves riding the bus. I had planned to take her in the morning (to allow us 20-30 extra minutes at home) and let her ride home, but she was totally eager to ride the bus both ways. The bus stop is around the corner from us (or just across a couple yards, if the grass isn't too wet) and Claire insists on coming too in the mornings. Kate feels independent, and has made some of her best school friends so far on the bus—another kindergartener (different class) and her first or second grade sister—who live across a couple yards in a different direction. They draw and do hair on the bus rides and have a great time.

3. Claire and Kate are super-into My Little Pony these days. It's so funny how kid-obsessions emerge so quickly and then disappear as quickly as they came. But they love to watch the cartoon on netflix, play with the couple of pony toys they have (my mom is wishing she had kept mine from the '80s!), and call themselves the different ponies, depending on what color they are wearing that day. My favorite is Twilight Sparkle, and I have the Pony theme song in my head all the time. That and the theme from Orange is the New Black.

4. Claire is pretty well potty trained these days, partially thanks to some My Little Pony panties I bribed her with to go #2 on the potty. (I have an aversion to clothing with branded characters on it, but sometimes a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do.)

5. BGC is doing better than we expected with her spica cast. Not near so whiny about it as we thought. She likes to be held a lot, since the cast gets hot and uncomfortable, but she's a trooper. And besides the bean bag chair, we've found ways to get her strapped in to her high chair, stroller, and the grocery cart, which I really didn't think would be possible! She gets this one off next week and another one put on for another six weeks. Hopefully that will be it, but there might be another cast or brace after that. Ugh.

6. Summer is essentially (if not officially) over. The pool is closed, we did one last item on our summer to-do list (a movie at the zoo last Friday night, or a "zoovie"), and I broke out the boxes of fall/winter clothing. Claire was excited to see all the "new" clothes appear in her drawers, and the fact that they were Kate's just makes it better! Poor thing—she'll get tired of hand-me-downs eventually, I'm sure.

7. It's consignment sale season! Of course, I don't really need much this year, since Kate wears uniform clothes to school and the littles get all the hand-me-downs. But Kate will need some cool-weather stuff for weekends and breaks, and BGC needs more long-sleeved dresses, since tops and pants don't work with her cast!

8. We're also quickly coming on birthday season in the Kelley house. My kids, husband, parents, and Jesus all have birthdays between October and January, so it's one family holiday after another scattered throughout all the secular holidays. BGC and Claire's parties are just two weeks apart in October, so I am planning, planning, planning! I even bought a little notebook to sketch my party ideas in . . . and of course had to retroactively chronicle the kids' parties from the last five years before digging in to this year's shindigs! (of course)

9. Totally random one before closing this list. Kate's P.E. teacher is named Ms. Aydelott. It's pronounced "ate-a-lot," and when Kate came home telling me this her first week, I didn't believe her. Then I concluded it must have been a mnemonic device for some similar-sounding name and Kate just got confused. Then I saw it in print and thought, wow. Of course the woman had to become a health and fitness fanatic, with a name like that! 

10. The BGC update: her parents have disappeared. So while we were so hopeful for their reunification with her (more hopeful and supportive than the social workers ever were!) that is now a presumed impossibility, and adoption is on the table. Matt and I did not go into foster care looking to adopt, but told ourselves we'd be open to it if the situation presented itself. So, we're in a time of major discernment on that. Lots of factors to consider, factors too personal to blog about. But that's what's up.

What's up with you?


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