I’ll continue to add activities as we complete them…
2010/2011 (not necessarily in this order)
1)Sculpey pens. Made one to take home and one to freshen our pen supply at MOPS. Well received, several went home and did this with their kids, too. And they looked pretty good if I do say so myself! Note: When I wanted to get pens, I was informed that Bic no longer makes white stick pens. I used the generic office max brand, which worked, except I had trouble with a lot of the ink wells not working- skipping continuously. They did give me a new box to use for replacement inks when I asked. My suggestion is just to try a pen at home first and see if it works. Don’t try the hard crystal kind. I have ran across stuff that says don’t use the transparent ones, but I think someone in our MOPS group tried it without a problem.
You take the ink well OUT of the pen. You work your sculpey/other polymer clay to make it pliable. You wrap 2 “snakes” snuggly around the pen and carefully/slowly roll it on the table. The faster you roll, the more likely it is to pull away. If it does, just smoosh it back on and roll some more to make it even all around. Note, if you don’t want to do the 2 snakes, you can do more than that, or you can do splotches of color smooshed onto the pen and then roll. You can also do the color mixing or gradients things, the cane things, or simple sculpture things to the sculpey for your pen. You also don’t HAVE to smoosh and roll- but you’ll have a textured surface to hold when you’re done. Just cover the pen. Make sure it seals nice around the “butt” end of the pen as well as neatly where the ink well will need to go back in (if you cover it, you’ll have a problem). Bake according to clay directions. I used a manilla folder folded fan style to keep them from rolling around while they baked. You can also use an index card to set your sculpey on to be baked. It doesn’t burst into flames in the oven :O If you use foil (or no barrier) from your pan, you may get a shiny surface on the pen. I Used the basic info from this site: The Orange Room.
Added: My prep work: I spread out the bundles of clay and pre-cut them crosswise into 4, so my 2 oz blocks that were pre-divided into 4 sticks yielded 16 cubes. I removed the inkwells from the pens and spread them out. I folded manilla folders accordion style to set the pens in the groves while baking on the cookie sheets- this keeps them from rolling around and from getting any shiny spots from sitting directly on the pan. We did this activity earlier than usual so the pens could bake and cool to be taken home that day. If you use more than 1/2 oz of clay, the pen is too heavy. The grapes pen had WAY too much clay when I experimented.
Moms selected clay cubes for each pen. I believe I had them pick a total of 4 cubes, and for more color, they could share a cube or divide them again. We did 2 pens- one for at MOPS and one to take home. We mostly did rope snakes and twisted them around. Some had several colors, some mixed the colors before rolling to get the swirled effect, some did a gradient of color. You can also do splotches of clay that smoosh onto the pen for a patchwork/camo/leafy effect. Either way, you just gently roll, and maybe re-smosh if necessary, the clay. If you’ve got perfectly formed “snakes” that completely cover the pen, you can leave them as is without rolling, but it will be a textured pen. Don’t cover the hole where the ink well was removed, or you’ll have to carve off the clay after it bakes. A few embelished with a clay flower, etc., just remember than thin parts or long extrusions will likely break off. The bird on the center pen HAD wings. I wish I had a picture of the ones or moms made at MOPS. They really came out amazing.
2)Apple enchilada’s. All brought a 9×9 pan (or similar) and we did assembly line similar to apple pies last year. Using this recipe (modified apple pie, plus some adjustments to make it no-cook prep): Apple Enchiladas
1/2 c brown sugar
2 T butter
6 apples- cored, peeled, and sliced
3/4 c sugar
2 T flour
1/2 t cinnamon
5-8” tortilla shells
1) Spread brown sugar evenly in bottom of 8×8 pan
2) Place small pieces of butter on top of brown sugar randomly throughout the pan.
3) Combine apples with sugar, flour, and cinnamon
4) Fill each tortilla with apple mixture and roll up. Place in pan of brown sugar, seam side down
5) Cover and bake at 400 for 40-50 minutes or until apples are done.
Uncover last 15 minutes for crispier top if desired.
Added: My prep work: We did this assembly line style. I had copies of the recipe spread out and the ingredients and bowls/ utensils in order along the tables. We asked ahead of time for our moms to bring their own 8×8/9×9 dish, or a pie pan works in a pinch. Make sure they’re LABELED, since you don’t follow your own dish. Moms picked a task in the recipe and stayed at that location for the entire time. We did have a few that helped get apples jump started and then moved on to a finishing step. This one takes a fair amount of clean up.
3) Service project- filled Operation Christmas Child boxes
Added: My prep work: Announcing the task ahead of time to get donations brought in. Spreading items and boxes out to fill. Moms selected items and put them in the boxes.
4)No-slip/ Stay-put bookmarks. Pretty well received, several made more for gifts at home. Ribbon, buttons, ponytail elastics, a needle and thread is all you need. I suggested 18″ lengths, 16″ for a smaller book, 20″ for a larger book. You can also decide length by putting it around a book. We made one to keep and one for our moppet workers. I found it at MaryJanes and Galoshes.
Added: My prep work: I marked on the table the 16, 18, and 20″ lengths at several stations. (Gasp! yes, I wrote on the tables- in pencil. But you could mark it with masking tape instead). I also spread out my materials to those stations- buttons, ribbon, hair elastics, thread, and needles. I also put candles at each station to seal the cut ends, but fray check could be used if you don’t want to deal with the flames. Needle threaders would probably speed the threading process, and if the materials are out and visible earlier, they can mentally choose ahead of time what they want to use. Ribbon could be pre-cut and sealed.
Our moms selected, cut, and sealed ribbon for two bookmarks (one to keep and one to give), selected matching hair elastics and buttons, threaded needles and sewed on the buttons and elastics. Selecting seems to take the largest chunk of time.
Update: Another tip- To accommodate a larger book, link on another hair elastic. To accommodate a smaller book, wrap the elastic around the button several times. I repeated this activity with another MOPS group and made up a print-able if you want directions.
5)Learning basics of knit/crochet- had some ladies in MOPS/mentor moms/past MOPS that assisted in teaching some basics. Used cotton yarn and worked on a dishcloth. Most of our needles/hooks were found at Salvation army, but we did buy a few new crochet hooks. They took their needles/hooks home along with their skein of yarn. This was a result of several requests on our surveys from the year before.
Added: My prep work: Finding materials. We spread out the yarns and the needles/hooks and directed moms to our instructors. Moms went home with their needles/hooks and yarn. We had an extra Wednesday activity later that month and encouraged women to bring their materials back for a refresher/time to work.
6)Re-usable T-shirt bags. T-shirts were new from a local salvage store- I got them for less than $0.25 each. You cut off the sleeves just OUTSIDE of the seam (you want the seam to help re-enforce the strength of the handle), cut off the neck just INSIDE of the collar, and sew across the bottom (or up from the bottom a few inches, depending on the size of the shirt. I found the idea at this instructable.
Added: My prep work: Rounding up and setting up sewing machines- pre-threaded and ready to sew and Spreading out T-shirts and scissors. Moms selected and cut the arms and necks of the T-shirts, then used a sewing machine (encourage new skills!) to sew across the bottom. Use a small zig-zag stitch and go across the bottom twice for extra security in your seam.
7) Iris paper folding. We made heart cards for valentines day. Card stock, wrapping paper, LOTS of tape. It’s very easy and produces some very nice looking results. We used this site and pattern, and there’s a tutorial here at Circle of Crafters.
Added: My prep work: Made heart patterns in the appropriate size from cereal box cardboard (several, but not one for each person. I think I made 6 for my group of 20). Moms centered and traced the heart, then cut it out of the card stock. We pre-cut wrapping paper into blocks, then had moms fold their 3 blocks (one of each color) to yield 8 strips of each color (fold in half the same way 3 times). They cut these strips, then folded in half and used as is described in the pattern. One more block was pre-cut (to cover the inside when done). Card stock was already cut to card size. Pattern was copied from the website. All these items plus tape and scissors (one for each person) were set out at the tables.
Also played a speed interview game from the MOPS forum as a last minute substitution- our speaker was unable to make it.
8) Multi-grain rice mix- a healthier, savory main meal mix, put in a quart ziplock and stuck on a printed instruction label. Made one to keep and one to give to our moppet workers. Used this recipe (compilation I made up after trying a few others):
For 3 cups of mix (12 servings total, 3 meals of 4 servings)
Put in a 1 qt. ziplock bag:
1 1/2 c parboiled rice (regular rice will make this a pasty, sticky rice)
3/8 c wild rice
3/8 c pearled barley
3/8 c cut oats
3/8 cracked wheat berries (may have to crack them yourselves)
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons basil
1 Tablespoon bullion
1 Tablespoon onion flakes
2 Tablespoons parsley
To go on labels:
Seasoned Rice and grain mix (contains 3 cups)
For 4 servings: Add 1 c seasoned mix to 2 1/2 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer until water is absorbed. Total cook time is approximately 30 minutes.
Contains: rice, wild rice, barley, oats, and wheat. Seasoned with chicken bullion, parsley, basil, onion, and garlic.
9)Family dinner question jars. Decorated spaghetti sauce jars with scrapbook paper and ribbon (I made patterns to fit the jars). Numbered popsicle sticks 1-30 with sharpie markers and developed winter/holiday themed questions for the first sheet to use with the jar (put it in the jar with the sticks). Draw sticks at dinner and let the family discussions begin! We’ve since had questions from a speaker that we were able to add, and recently more questions we used in a game that we sent home to use with the jars, too. There’s question ideas at the site I found the idea from also. Based my idea on something at HowDoesShe then modified to fit our needs. Also could be done as an “I’m bored” jar (concept at Somewhat Simple) or a “take time to…” jar (concept at another site- I can’t find the link right now).
10) Group games- “Would You rather…” and Guesstures.
11) Didn’t use the planned game, lots of discussion on the topic.
12) Necklaces- memory wire chokers or slip over the head style- no closures needed. Use “E” beads and/or bugle beads (seed beads will take FOREVER!) and larger accent beads and fishing line for the slip over the head variety (beading string would have required needles, fishing line does not). I finished with a square knot (right over left, left over right) then a dab of super glue or hot glue, then hide the knot under a large bead. I found it easiest to wrap my end several times on a twist tie, then twist. This kept one end secure while threading beads on the other end. Then start with a large bead (finish with small beads). We did this activity on our “spa day” and got a lot of good feedback, as it provided something to do and chat over, rather than just going to the different vendors, etc. NOTE: Everyone selected the slip over the head style from our group, even though the option for a choker style was provided.
13) Resurrection eggs- Count down to Easter, kind of like an Advent Calendar does to Christmas. You can open an egg each day, see an object, and hear a piece of the story as Easter approaches.
I basically followed directions from here including using all the verses. I made a few modifications, like a butterfly sticker on the outside of the last egg (it played into the speaker’s theme for the day). I also used a small strip of red leather for the string/thin rope, as I felt it fit a whip and bleeding a bit better (and I had it on hand). I pulled thorns off of hawthorn trees down the road- impressive size and very prickly, too. Our moms found it a great tool to help share the story of Easter with their kids.
14) Plant-able paper. Basic idea at family fun, I believe from the Girl scouts. I took basic paper making steps- rip up paper into small squares (or use shredded paper). Put in blender (about 1/3 to 1/2 full) with plenty of water. Blend until smooth, add water if needed. Dump in a bowl and add a package of seeds, your choice. Put nylon window screening or tulle down on a towel. shape the pulp on the screening into desired shapes. cover with second layer of screening. Gently press out excess water. Use rolling pins if desired (but not aggressively at first, or it will smoosh your shape out of shape!) Set flat to dry, then write a note to a friend. Tell them to pull it into pieces and lightly cover with dirt so it will grow, and maybe tell them what the seeds are! NOTE: If your pulp layer is too thick, your paper will be thick. Think recycled egg cartons thick. Not a problem, but it will break apart if you have to fold it.
15) MOPS Swap- we actually have done these at other times. But to keep it from being as rushed and so we can “shop” without our kids, we’re doing this during our Creative Activities time for our last regular meeting this year. Bring all the kid “stuff”- clothes, toys, books, furniture, strollers, diapers, dishes, bottles, monitors, whatever. Sometimes we say maternity clothes/items, too. Take home what you want. What doesn’t get claimed gets donated locally.