We just came home from a wonderful vacation. Thank goodness for a long weekend directly following it, though! We attended the Unschooler’s Waterpark Gathering at the Kalahari Resort in Ohio, and I must say that attending a conference for vacation is actually a bit of work.
The work is beyond worth it though. I also want to insist that the unschooling aspect of the convention should not deter any conventional homeschooling family from going! The amazing room rates are reason enough to sign up, let alone the conference attractions. The funshops, lectures and other events can be a fantastic experience for any and all homeschoolers; especially for dads like my husband, who works full time so enjoys the chance at feeling more connected to the kids’ homeschooling. We’ve attended the past two years now, soaking in as much as possible – and I don’t just mean chlorine water.
There is a LOT to keep busy with and prepare for, especially our favorite event: The Kid’s Marketplace. So, do consider going next year but for more info, refer to their website. Their websites seem to change every year though, so make sure to join or keep an eye on Homeschooling In Detroit for more information.
OK but what we’re really here to discuss is crafts, right?
The reason I share our vacation with you is that the ingenious Marketplace gives little entrepreneurs a chance to make (or bring used) and sell anything they choose; which means that we had to do some serious crafting. My kids are no stranger to the entrepreneurial spirit – I was raised by parents who each own(ed) their own businesses, and I do too.
Selling items involves selling yourself in a genuine way – a good skill to hone, in my opinion. But how does a child choose what to sell? Our ten year old, Raye, has for many months now been crafting and painting clay guinea pigs, but these do take a bit of time and finesse. So while she knew she wanted to offer a handful of those, we also thought adding another thing to the sale table to draw people in would be a good idea.
For that, a trip to the craft store for inspiration was in order. While there we were of course overwhelmed with supplies begging us to take them home and give them a cozy corner in which to collect dust, but somehow we weeded through the glitter and found a really cool steampunk-inspired aisle of metal findings and trinkets.
The game spinners jumped out at us the most, so we took them home to brainstorm over. We weren’t sure if we wanted to make compasses, clocks, games, or just bits of art. But we were pretty confident any of those would be fun. Our five year old’s most marketable skills lay mainly in her pinchable cuteness but daddy had a great idea to do with her something safe and comfortable – Bacon Grease & Peanut Butter dog biscuits. More on those later.
Raye and I knew we had to think outside of the game box when it came to using the spinners we bought. She was definitely leaning toward some sort of miniature game, though, while I was trying to stay realistic – children at the convention probably didn’t want to spend more than a few bucks on a single handmade item. To start, we tried to think of the most obvious games we could and put them into spinner form.
The first that came to mind were “He Loves Me; He Loves Me Not” and “Truth, Dare, Promise to Repeat”. From there we got silly:
We sold them for $2 each, which is probably a lot less than they’re worth considering the painting that went into each, but that’s okay because the fun we had making and selling them was so worth it. Next time I make them I plan to incorporate stencils and spraypaint to make the process less tedious.
Want to make your own?
1) Your first step is getting the spinners and a tiny game board. Before I say more though, I need to make it clear that the spinners are actually intended for scrapbooking embellishments, and are therefore quite small. OK that said, we were still able to use most of the bigger ones and the brads that came with them without issue and for the price it was worth it. Next time I will probably find stronger brads to use though, so perhaps you might want to as well. For the boards, we already happened to have a bunch little 4×4 wooden squares and circles, also found for very cheap at the craft stores in Metro D. But a scrap of cardboard cut to size will do well, too!
2) Have the kids use a ruler and pencil to bisect the board as many times as necessaryfor the game you’re making. Or perhaps you’re having them design their own mini clock to learn to tell time? A compass? A game like Twister? Maybe just an interactive piece of steampunk art? A quick Google search brings up more artsy ideas. The possibilities are endless; the concepts inadvertently learned while crafting are priceless. Discussions that stem from this are sure to be interesting. As with any homeschooling craft, a running dialog between you and your child facilitates learning on both your ends. Once you have your board divided into sections, begin painting or coloring in. If you want to add words, a permanent marker is probably easiest to use. We also utilized paint pens, which are a bit nicer.
3) Help your child drill or poke a hole through the middle, once your board front is painted. My ten year-old was more than capable to do this with a drill, but I even guided my interested five year-old in this as well (my aforementioned entrepreneur dad is a carpenter, after all, so we start ‘em young with these skills). Now you’re ready to put the spinner on. I found that they spun better when the brad wasn’t put in too tight. Using pliers helped get it just right.
4) Finish the back side. Instead of painting the back of ours, we actually printed out a little label. This saved painting time and gave a more polished look. We also got to poke around in Photoshop, which Raye loves to do! This isn’t necessary, but if you choose to do this it looks nicer to add the spinner first, and then glue the label on top of the brad end to hide it. We then used Mod Podge to finish it off. We also used a (paint) marker to go around the edge real quick.
5) For an added touch, we thought a chain with a clasp really made the piece special. The ones we used were found right next to the spinners, so it was a no-brainer. Raye clips her favorite Mini Game Board to her jeans; I put mine on my purse. And that’s it!
We’ve seen these used as party favors online, too. I think we will offer them at Raye’s next birthday party! The Photobooth Pose Picker seems to be a hit at weddings.