When life hands you a shark (toy), make an ocean!
Hey, Anya, weren’t you going to take January easy?
No new theme, just using what you already had?
Yes, yes I was. But then Lady Bug got some belated Christmas presents of animal toys which prompted some awesome scripting that coincided with some nervous energy and things kind of spiraled in a whirlpool of enthusiasm. And as I am wont to do, I made a Pinterest board for the theme. I’ll let the Pinterest board do the listing for me and I’ll use this blog post to explain as best I can how I made the things pictured in the slide show.
I can’t actually take credit for the ocean playscape I made; I got the basic idea from The Pinay Homeschooler who made an arctic diorama with a small tray and a box for the backdrop. I don’t know if she hot-glued her box to the tray, but that’s what I did. At this time I am uncertain if someday removing the box will totally destroy the tray or not. But we had it and weren’t using them, so I just went for it. I used a shallow Amazon box an cut off the flappy parts. After it was glued on I used leftover blue felt from….I’m not even sure what project, it’s been so long. (Off topic, but this project totally validates my hoarding tendencies when it comes to crafting supplies.) After I had covered all the side with felt by hot gluing it on, I cut the blue tinted stiff plastic to look like waves. The plastic came from a colored see-though binder divider set I got at the Dollar Store. (I had originally bought it only for the red one to make a red filter for our Spy School.) After I had glued the blue film on the tray then I added the sand-colored felt. (Originally bought for making felt weighted planets, but I never made them.) That’s it for the basic structure.
Then I found the scene Lady Bug had been scripting on the Little Einsteins show. I printed a screen shot of it and then laminated it and hot glued it to the back for a more interesting backdrop (just in small areas so it could be pulled off in the future without wrecking the felt potential.) I also printed another screenshot that I also laminated. I then cut out just the yellow fish and the yellow coral and glued that to the sand and the side for a layered look. Everything else in the pictures (aside from the red and yellow “coral”) are toys that came with the original toy animal set.
I made that set at night after all the kids were in bed. The next morning I rushed down before Lady Bug so I could see her expression when she saw it, and I was not disappointed. But I felt like it was missing something, and I still had too much energy. So using some wooden bases from a multi-pack I got last year along with pipe-cleaners from the Dollar Store, I made “coral.” I used a hot glue gun to make it stay on the base and cut and bent the pipe-cleaners to something that at least slightly resembled coral in a general sense. I also found a picture of a yellow angel fish and Rocket and printed out both the original and reverse of the pictures. I cut the pictures out and glued them together to make a double sided picture. I then laminated them for durability and she now has all the elements she needs to act out the scene she has been scripting.
And I also printed/laminated/cut a bunch of ocean word cards for her to play with because she loves things like that to play and stim with. Making this playscape is helping me do something I’ve been terrible at for over a decade: playing with my kids. I know how to teach them, I know how to have fun and make learning feel like play, but I’m terrible at just plopping down on the floor and just playing with my kids. I figure I’ll set my self a timer and try to work up from 5 minutes to 15 minutes. (Kidding!….kind of….)