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Natural Kids

Natural Kids: February 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How-To Make Newspaper Seedling Pots

Newspaper seedling pots by Erin from Imagination Kids shop

Every year I start my own seeds for my garden and every year that means I buy tons of those little peat pots for my seeds to grow in. Well this year I decided to try something else. I had already purchased some "coconut fiber" (peat pots are contributing to the destruction of peat bogs read more about that here seedling pots but I have all ready run of those so I thought I would try my hand at making recycled newspaper pots.

spice container

1. Get a full sheet of newspaper. I am actually using a "magazine" insert from the paper that's why the print is on its side.

2. Cut the sheet of newspaper in half. You can cut more than one sheet at a time to save time.

3. Now fold that piece in half. You can fold either side because the piece of newspaper is roughly a square.

4. Now fold approximately a an inch down on the folded edge. This will make your pot a bit sturdier.

5. Then take out your spice container or what ever item that is the approximate diameter you want your pots to end up. Lay the container down on the folded newspaper. Make sure you leave 3/4"-1" over hang on the newspaper, this will form the bottom of your pot.

6. Roll the newspaper up around the container.

7. Stand the rolled up container up with the overhang on top. make sure to keep the paper from unrolling.

8. Fold the over hang down kinda like you are wrapping a present.

9. Now take and small piece of tape and tape down the last flap on the bottom.

10. Tada! You have a seedling pot!

You can then tap four of our pots together at the top and form "seedling" trays.

And for your viewing pleasure... the first crocus of the season.

What's in Imagination Kids' Etsy shop? A beautiful iceberg wooden stacker toy (how appropriate for the Vancouver Olympics!)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Make a Shadow Puppet Play!

When my older children were young, we had a beautiful little wooden and vellum shadow puppet theater from Hearthsong Catalog. Here is how to make one of your own, and a cast of puppets.

I started by making the shadow puppets with the help of a wonderful book by Laura Ross, called Hand Puppets: How to Make and Use Them". Using her drawings as a guide, I drew the characters from "Peter and the Wolf" onto some poster board. Black poster board would be best, but I only had red. You could also use cereal box scraps, or even thick construction paper. If you are worried about your drawing skills, try not to let that stop you. Young children tend to admire their parent's drawings very much. You could also trace characters in a book, or create imaginary creatures.

Once I had cut out all the characters, I mounted them on long kabob skewers, using paper hinges, like so:

For the theater, you could stretch a white sheet across a doorway, glue vellum to a wooden canvas stretcher, or like me, tape one-ply white paper to an old metal frame from the attic. My son helped and directed the creation of the scenery. Our first stage was small and today we enlarged it so that the puppets had more space to move about. Unfortunately, the paper seam showed. I would try to use one large sheet of paper next time.

We put the theater up on some chairs and covered the bottom of the chairs with a blanket, to hide the puppeteers. You can see a little bit of our scenery through the paper.

We clamped a strong light behind the stage, to shine on the back of theater over the left shoulder of the puppeteer. If it is angled correctly, your own shadow should be out of the way.

By now it was dark and we turned off all the lights except the spot and began acting out "Peter and the Wolf" by Prokofiev, narrated by Carol Channing on audiotape. My son wanted to be the primary puppeteer, and I was his assistant until there got to be too many characters on the stage for him to handle alone.

It is hard to manage several puppets at a time. A piece of styrofoam below the stage is handy for sticking puppet skewers into, as you can see below.

Now, for a view of what the audience sees! Here is the bird, the duck, and Peter himself.

Here are some friends trying out the puppets after they saw the puppet show, using the characters in their own ways.

Oh, dear.....

As I hoped, my little boy got an idea for his own shadow puppet play after we did "Peter and the Wolf", and that's what we're going to work on next!

If you like this posting, come visit my blog at

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mini Monday - Viltalakim

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Meet Kim of Viltalakim:

When I was little I was always being crafty with origami, filigraan, knitting etc. Later I became creative with flowers and gardening. After giving birth to two lovely daughters I became a florist teacher and I have a full time job doing that.

My passion now is making felt by the wet-felt technique. I sometimes use the felting needles. Thanks to my friend who moved to Sweden and introduced felting to me. A fine colleague helped me with different felting techniques. Felting is so much fun to do! It gives me new energy in this world where everything has to be done fast. Felting is physical hard work and can take a while before it's finished. Never the less Is felting something magic every time. Colors somehow mix together and become new colors.

And did you know, Vilt is Dutch for Felt?

post by Prettydreamer


Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Feature with Woolies

Tell us little about yourself!
I'm an old married lady (lol), with two teenage boys. We live on a little ranch, with two horses, four dogs and two cats. Periodically, we have other animals - various rodents, goats....I really want a desert tortoise. We're from the east coast, but now live in the wild west - southwest Arizona. I love the wildlife here, and the mountains. The heat - not so much! I work full time for an advertising agency, but have the wonderful luxury of a home office - which gives me time to lurk on etsy all day. Don't tell anybody!

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I am a knitter. My Mom taught me to knit when I was a little girl. I used to knit baby clothes, but when I opened Woolies on etsy almost three years ago, my shop evolved into stuffed animals. I can remember saying (a LONG time ago) to my sister in law that I was always searching for patterns for softies. Finally, I found some great ones, and have developed some of my own as well. I also sew, and make some softies at the sewing machine. Everything at Woolies is made from natural fabrics. I'm a yarn junkie, and could easily develop into a fabric junkie. And then I got into jewelry making, but that's a whole 'nother story.

What inspires you?
I can still remember what it felt like to be a small child and hug/hold my stuffed animals. I went everywhere with them. (I still have one, Lucky, a horse). What a comfort my animals (both stuffed and otherwise) were to me, during a difficult -and  a bit lonely - childhood. I want my animals to provide the same sort of comfort and love to children. My stuffies are all very good listeners - just in case you wondered.

What got you started with making knitted and soft toys?
Hmmm, might have answered that one already? I am a true animal lover. And a true lover of anything soft and squishy (which includes cookies and brownies). It was natural that Woolies became knitted soft toys. And I have my Mom to thank for teaching me to knit.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
It will be 3 years in just a couple of weeks. It has opened an entire new world for me. I love it here.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?
If you really want your Etsy shop to be a business that provides an income, you have to treat it like a business. Selling on the internet is a vast undertaking. I do not pretend to fully understand SEO, for example, but am trying to learn. Don't expect all your sales to come from buyers on Etsy. I recommend reaching out across the world - via advertising - to reach your target audience.
If I could tell shop owners just one thing - treat your customers like you would want to be treated. Excellent customer service is the best thing you can do to grow your business.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
It wasn't that long after I started to sell on Etsy that I discovered the Natural Kids Team  - and it was like meeting your new best friends without even expecting it. Like minded women (mostly), making incredible, wonderful, items for kids. From natural materials. Ecstasy. Now that we have our website up and running beautifully, I just want to continue to grow with the team. I was leader for about a year and a half, and I'm very happy to relinquish that role!

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
Children's imaginations are incredible things. I love to see a child come alive, with a natural toy in their hands. I think a big set of natural blocks is one of the greatest toys a child can have - let them imagine a city or a fort or a tunnel. One day I'll write a book - Plastic is the death of the human race. (lol).

My items can be found at:
Also several toy stores and online stores.
My blog:

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lemon Currant Scones Recipe

Vegan Agave Sweetened Lemon and Currant Scones
by Steph from Elemental Handcrafts

image via Ms.Tea

Ingredients: (use organic where possible)

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegan butter like Earth Balance or coconut oil
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup rice milk
1/2 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/4 to 1/2 cup currants
1/4 flax seed meal (optional)
Zest from one lemon

image via Satoru Kikuchi


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheight. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease pan.

2) In large bowl combine flour, salt and baking powder. Mix well. Cut in the vegan butter or coconut oil. It is best to have the coconut oil cool enough that it is solid.

3) Add rice milk, juice, vanilla, agave, currants and lemon zest. Stir very gently until just mixed. Over mixing bad for scones!

4) Drop by the spoonful on to prepared sheet and pop in oven. They will grow so if you definitely don't want them to stick together, don't be lazy like me- use two cookie sheets. Bake until just barely starting to golden on the tops, about 15 to 20 minutes

Let cool and serve with tea. Mmmm!

image via Mads Boedker

Source of recipe: I wrote this recipe.

Makes: 12 scones, Preparation time: 10 minutes, Cooking time: 20 minutes

What's in Elemental Handcraft's shop? This personalized wooden baby ball toy!

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Crafts with Kids - "Baked Crayons"

One of the very best things I can think of to do is to spend time with my daughter doing yet another project around the table.  This project is oh so simple.

Use little nubs or broken crayons. Baked in a muffin tin at 150 degree oven (or the lowest setting your oven has) for about twenty minutes or so. Cool to room temperature or if needed 20 minutes or so in freezer. That is it ... lovely multicolor crayons for your little one's next drawing project.

Originally published on "Whither Will I Wander".
posted by prettydreamer


Monday, February 15, 2010

Mini Monday - Mamma 4 Earth

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

 Meet  Linda of Mamma 4 Earth:

I am a homeschooling mom of four wonderful children, I love working with natural materials and really enjoy creating knitted and felted treasures for my family and my shop....

My mom was always knitting when I was little and she taught me how to knit when I was 5 years old and I have always loved knitting since then. I was always keen to try and knit whatever she was busy making and she always took the time to show me how to make my own version. Fond memories...

Here at mamma4earth you will find the most delightful handknitted treasures. All my items are knitted with the most beautiful pure Merino sheep wool from the Cape in South Africa and they are filled with pure fleece. The wool I use is very precious to me because it has been handspun and hand dyed. It has such a lovely soft texture and the most beautiful hues and colour variations that knit up into the most wonderful farmyard characters and gnomes.

post by Prettydreamer


Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Winner Is...

Amanda from the blog, Five Minutes Peace

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Give Away!

The give away today is being sponsored by KnittingMomma. She and her family create together on their homestead in northern Vermont.

They are offering a baby/todder gift set ~

hand knit baby gnome and grasping ball (all knit of washable wool and stuffed with wool)

branch stacking set

hand crocheted hemp/cotton wash cloth

To enter ~

Visit Etsy and type in "Naturalkids Team" in the search box. Find something that you especilly like and come back here to comment about it. A winner will be drawn by random number generator on Sunday evening, the 14th, at 7:00 pm.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How to Make a Snow Child Toy

Children look extra-adorable in the snow. Their eyes twinkle above their scarves, their noses and ears are as pink as seashells, their hats slide down over their eyebrows, and their bodies are encased in thick layers and heavy boots, which makes them walk like toddlers. When they are sledding, the air rings with their whoops and hollers, all that pent-up indoor energy set free!

Later, the children troop in for hot chocolate, and it is time to replay the fun on the rug in front of the fireplace using these little snow children toys and their little toy sled.

Here's a picture of my little boy playing with some snow children next to a hill made of a down comforter. He's smiling impishly because instead of sliding to the bottom of the hill, the toy sled went on a magical flight, the most remarkable sled run I have ever seen, and landed on top of the bedstead.

The other snow child watched in amazement.

To make a snow child you need a little wooden person, which you can get from the craft store. I used one which is two and a half inches tall. You can substitute a cork with a wooden bead or an acorn for a head if you can't get to a craft store.

Other Supplies:

paper scissors
wool felt
fabric scissors
needle and thread
tape measure
pipe cleaner

Make a paper pattern for the clothes. These clothes are made to fit the two and a half inch tall snow child I have. If your person is a different size, use your measuring tape to adapt the simple patterns. These patterns are for a hood, coat, and mittens.

If you trace the patterns onto felt, your young child can cut out the pieces. Be careful using the sharp fabric scissors, though!

Cut out the coat, the hood, and two thicknesses of mitten for each hand. The little strip of dark purple felt is for the "pants". You can cut it freehand. It has to wrap around the bottom of the body with a small overlap.

Tightly sew on the pants using matching thread.

Sew the coat together.

To give your snow child some arms, cut a piece of pipe cleaner, wrap it around the neck one time, and bend a loop on each end to form hands, as my son is demonstrating. Now slip on the coat.

Sew the front of the coat together, and sew the pants to the coat with a few tiny stitches.

Sew the edges of the mittens, put them on the hands, and stuff the cuffs inside the coat. Do a running stitch around the sleeve and gather. Sew the sleeve to the mittens.

I think an undefined face is fine. Your child can imagine every expression.

Sew the back seam of the hat.

I added a little fringe to the hat.

Now put on the hood and sew it to the collar.

My son got very interested in the project and started making his own snow child with a little help. This is the first time he had ever hand sewed. Here he is sewing the pants.

Here are the pieces for his snow child's clothes. I simplified the mitten shape since the thumbs didn't show much on the first person. He asked me to draw a hat like his own which he then cut out. I sewed his snow child's clothes together for him. If you are wondering why I sew everything, it's because I find glue doesn't work very well with felt. The felt absorbs the glue. Glue can also stiffen and stain the felt.

He decided to make a sled. As usual, he had great ideas for how to construct it. He cut out two colors of orange for the sled, which he lined with layers of aluminum foil to make it bendable. I sewed it together for him, he bent back the front, which I fastened in place with a few stitches, and he had a fine toboggan. Now it is time to play.

Here is a tiny friend discovering the snow children.

We made a little hill for the sled out of a three-ring binder.

"Weeeeeee!" he said.

Just like real children, the snow children sometimes spilled off the sled at the bottom of the hill!

Copyright 2010, Beth Curtin of